Westmont Magazine New President Leads Students Quietly
T.J. Breshears draws on his involvement in a wide variety of campus activities to encourage students to use their time wisely.
Becoming student body president took a leap of faith for T.J. Breshears ’12. Felix Huang ’11, who led the Westmont College Student Association (WCSA) in 2009-10, encouraged him to apply. “And God put it on my heart,” T.J. says. “I’m not a stereotypical student-government type of person. I ran for treasurer in the sixth grade, lost to the cute blonde girl and never pursued it again. I don’t have a persona about me that says ‘school president.’ I lead in a quieter way.”
The Santa Maria native and religious studies major has been involved in a variety of activities on campus, working as a resident assistant and in the Office of Admission. He has served as president of the club volleyball team and performed with the orchestra, playing the trombone.
“I’ve had my hands in a lot of things, and I’ve enjoyed stepping out of my comfort zone and growing,” T.J. says. “I’ve had some great experiences and seen a lot of different aspects of Westmont.”
As an R.A. in Page Hall last year, T.J. mentored first-year students as they made the difficult adjustment from high school to college. “I enjoyed helping them with the transition and getting them acclimated for college,” he says. “Yes, I had to enforce policies, but more often I was looking out for the whole person academically, personally and spiritually.”
T.J. enjoyed organizing events for his section and entire hall, such as dances, pancake nights and award ceremonies. He also invited religious studies professors to come and answer theological questions from students.
“We were living in close quarters,” he says. “My goal was to create 30 men who could be interdependent throughout their time at Westmont.”
T.J., who minors in mathematics and Biblical languages, plans to enroll in graduate school to pursue a career in pastoral ministry or earn a doctorate so he can teach at the college level. “I’ve got to be in a profession that involves people,” he says. “My time as an R.A. convinced me of that. I enjoy working with young adults and youth. They have a lot to offer.”
When T.J. was a freshman, he played on the club volleyball team, competing in several indoor tournaments a season. The following year, he became president of the club, organizing weekly practices in the gym for more than a dozen men and women. “It’s great because every year different people come out —people from outside your own classes,” he says. “It’s a lot of fun, and I’m still in contact with friends who graduated two years ago.”
T.J. played the trombone in the orchestra and brass quintet his first two years at Westmont. Although he enjoyed performing, he left the orchestra to focus on his duties as an R.A. “I wish I had time to play, but I didn’t want to over-commit myself,” he says. “I enjoyed going on tours and being with everyone. The orchestra includes an amazing group of 60 people of every grade and from every dorm on and off campus.”
In summer 2009, he toured Hungary and Austria with the orchestra. “I roomed with people I never would have lived with,” he says. “It was a great experience getting to know a wide variety of people. It was a great tour. Our hosts were amazing. Families were gracious, and the venues were acoustically phenomenal and aesthetically amazing.”
Taking advantage of a wide range of opportunities served T.J. well as he led tours for the admissions office. He also served as an intern for one of the admissions counselors, helping to set up school visits in California and out of state.
The Righetti High School graduate says he first heard about Westmont through a friend who was attending the college. After an admissions counselor visited his high school, he decided to apply. He was even invited to campus to take part in the Monroe Scholarship competition. “I felt that this was where I wanted to be for college,” he says. “Westmont had the atmosphere that was going to cause me to grow academically and spiritually, which is important to me. Westmont’s small-school feel and the interactions I had with the people here was what really sold it for me.”
T.J. says his goal with WCSA is to share information about the wonderful programs and organizations available at Westmont for all students. “We are looking at student involvement in chapel to make it a more formative part of education here,” he says. “We’re really keying in on people’s own personal stories and past experiences.
“We also think students and student groups have a lot to offer. We need to make sure more people know what Westmont offers so students can get involved quicker and spend their four years here wisely.”